Southern Baptists and the Politics of Stem Cells
Mainstream Baptist printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 10:12:50 AM EST
Few knew that Southern Baptists were weighing in against stem cell research when the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message (BF&M) was adopted.  Fewer still realized that millions of Baptist couples using the pill to plan their families could be condemned by their church for committing infanticide.
Debates in congress have revealed a deep rift among some of the most conservative pro-life members of congress over the value of stem cell research.  Such research could lead to treatments for Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, diabetes, spinal cord injuries, strokes and burns.  Many see no harm in permitting stem cell researchers to use "frozen embryo's" destined to be discarded by clinics after performing "in vitro fertilizations" for childless couples.

Months before debate began in congress, Richard Land, head of the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission wrote President Bush and asked him "to protect every human life, including the lives of cryogenically preserved human embryos."  His letter reflects an understanding of personhood added to Articles XV and XVIII of the 2000 BF&M that is derived more from papal pronouncements than from the Bible.

The Bible understands persons to be created by a union of flesh and spirit:   "The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life: and man became a living being." (Gen. 2:7 NASB)  This view prevailed in the church for more than 1800 years and remains the belief held by most Protestants and Jews.  In 2000, however, Southern Baptists adopted an "instrument of accountability" that espouses the Roman Catholic dogma that personhood begins when a human ovum is fertilized.

If scientists extracting stem cells from eight-cell blastulae deserve to be likened to "Nazi's" and condemned for "technological cannibalism," then every Baptist couple who has used birth control pills for family planning should be condemned for infanticide.  Birth control pills do not always prevent fertilization of the human ovum.  Sometimes they prevent fertilized human ova from implanting in a uterus where conception can be completed and embryos have the possibility of growing to become living, breathing, human beings.  The fertilized ova that are destroyed in this common and effective form of contraception are frequently more fully developed than the test tube embryos being discarded by fertility clinics.  Previously, the Roman Catholic church stood nearly alone against such contraception.

The efforts of SBC leaders to uphold their papal views of the sanctity of life is either misguided or hypocritical.  If the current leaders of the SBC are informed about the facts of reproduction and contraception, it is cowardly for them to maintain a code of silence within the church about sins so similar to those they scathingly and publicly denounce in the world of medical research.  If they are uninformed about the basics of contraception, what credibility do they have to speak about stem cell research?

If the new leaders of the SBC truly believe that, "Human embryos are not mere biological tissues or clusters of cells; they are the tiniest of human beings," then they need to speak just as openly, publicly and loudly against the use of birth control pills as they do against stem cell research.  Should they do so, they need to be careful that they are not so bold as to define sin in such a way that they also condemn God.  Robert Francoeur, a Roman Catholic embryologist and theologian writes,

"If every human egg fertilized is immediately a `fetus', `baby' and `person', then God and nature play a mean trick on us. Scientists estimate that in the five-six days following union of egg and sperm, between one-third and one-half of all `persons' spontaneously degenerate and are reabsorbed or expelled. In the second week, 42 percent of the implanted `persons' abort. In the fetal period one-third of the remaining fetuses spontaneously miscarry. Thus out of every 1000 `persons' `conceived', only 120 to 160 survive to be reborn!"  (Christian Ethics Today, April 2000, p. 26.)

God declared all his creative work to be "very good." (Gen. 1:31)  Would He do that if it was wasteful of human life and potential?




Display:
One in four pregnancies ends in spontaneous rejection. Are women going to be punished because their own bodies reject 'bad' conceptions? And, a developing fetus is a potential human being, just like a building under construction is potentially a home, shop, business, etc. Both are incomplete, and incompatible with their eventual use until they are complete. The Biblical take on this sees a fetus as part of its mother, only becoming a person when it is born. Calling a zygote a 'person' is- to me, anyway, like calling some scraped dirt with surveyor's stakes a house. Until it is complete and capable of being inhabited, it isn't a house, it's a construction site.

Yes, perhaps this sounds a little harsh, but I sincerely believe that calling a clump of cells a 'person' is really stretching things. Until it can survive outside the womb, it's a potential person.

by Lorie Johnson on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 10:47:02 AM EST

Calling a zygote a 'person' is- to me, anyway, like calling some scraped dirt with surveyor's stakes a house.

Bill Neaves, a stem cell activist in Missouri had an even better analogy: Is an acorn the equivalent of an oak tree?

Another consideration: one embryo can split into two or can merge with another before individualism is assured. Furthermore, the embtyo contains what will become the placenta, yet no religion I know of regrads that to be the equivalent of a human being.

Well done Lorie.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 05:08:10 PM EST
Parent



As a Catholic who has long been involved in embryonic stem cell advocacy, I believe that there exists a strong presumption that Jesus would have no objection to this vital research.

Here are the facts:

  1. Jesus lived His entire life on Earth as an observant Jew pursuant to Torah and the halakic tradition.

  2. Jesus never repudiated the Halakic concept of healing lives in danger of death, known as Picuach nefish.

  3. If anything, Jesus constatly reaffirmed this concept by performing healing miracles on the Sabbath.

  4. All three branches of contemporary Judaism, in studying the same Torah Jesus lived by, concluded it would be a sin not to do this research.

  5. So why Jesus oppose embryonic stem cell research? The facts would indicate otherwise.


by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 04:49:33 PM EST


WWW Talk To Action


The Theocrats' New Clothes: A Naked Call for Political Dominion
Like the monarch in Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale, The Emperor's New Clothes, the theocratic ambitions of the organizers of the big Christian Right......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
The Republican Diversity Program... Is Working
The Washington Post recently underscored the larger point in this post, which goes far beyond the issues of the GOP diversity program. So I......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Unholy Alliance for Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety
When I obtained a post from a private email listserv of gun control advocates, I wasn't sure what to do with it. Then I......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Bobby Jindal's Big Rally for Christian Right Dominion
There is a big Christian Right rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday, January 24th. The event, called The Response, is intended to, among......
By Frederick Clarkson (4 comments)
Dominionism, Gov. Rick Perry and The Response Rally of 2011
The David Pakman Show recently rebroadcast this "Classic Interview"  with Rachel Tabachnick in which they discuss her groundbreaking work on the New Apostolic Reformation,......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Religious Freedom as Revolution
In which I discuss Religious Freedom Day on the David Pakman Show. I said, among other things, "The idea of religious freedom was one......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
President Obama's Religious Freedom Day Proclamation
As is the annual custom, Mr. Obama issued the the Presidential Proclamation for Religious Freedom Day, 2015. I have republished the whole thing after......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Seize the Day (Religious Freedom Day) on Social Media
Today is Religious Freedom Day! And there are ways to participate on social media on this, the most important national Day that most of......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Silencing Dissent: How Biased Civil Rights Policies Stifle Dialogue on Israel
"Silencing Dissent: How Biased Civil Rights Policies Stifle Dialogue on Israel" is a new article in Tikkun Magazine, (January 2015) by Chip Berlet and......
By Chip Berlet (0 comments)
Antisemitism and Islamophobia on U.S. College Campuses
Here are the Recommendations from the Report "Constructing Campus Conflict: Antisemitism and Islamophobia on U.S. College Campuses, 2007-2011: published by Political Research Associates, 2014......
By Chip Berlet (1 comment)
What Did Jefferson & 18th Century Evangelicals Have in Common?
What did Jefferson and 18th century evangelicals have in common?  If you guessed separation of church and state, you can go to the head......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Waking the Sleeping Beast of Religious Liberty
This piece originally appeared as an op-ed at LGBTQ Nation. Something remarkable happened in the run up to the decision of the U.S. Supreme......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Rousing Remarks: Remembering Mario Cuomo's Powerful Speech On Religion And Politics
Two memorable speeches were delivered in the early 1980s on separation of church and state. The first was by U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Huckabee Dumps Fox News -- Might Jump in to the Race for 2016
According to a statement on his web site, tonight will be Mike Huckabee's last show on Fox where he has held forth on Saturday......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Seize The Day!: Upcoming Religious Freedom Event Provides An Opportunity For Separation Advocates
Note: Like all of my posts, this one is a cross-post from Americans United's "Wall of Separation" blog. Two weeks from today, the nation......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)

Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (0 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (0 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (5 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.